Think back to your childhood. Do you remember the excitement of getting ready for the first day of school? You probably packed up your backpack with the new pencils, pens, notebooks, and colors your family shopped for. But in Guatemala, many families cannot afford the cost of supplies, textbooks, and uniforms and that can prevent their children from attending school.

At Familias de Esperanza in Antigua, staff and volunteers spent the first few weeks of the year preparing to celebrate our annual Días de los Útiles, or School Supply Days. This year, more than 3,400 school bags were handed out to students. These bags are filled with everything the students need for the school year including uniforms and shoes!

Seeing the excitement and smiles on the students’ faces makes this a favorite time of year for many of our staff members. Luis Pichillà describes January as, “always filled with happiness here at Common Hope with preparations for School Supply Distribution Day.”

The combined effort of hundreds of people in the U.S. and in Guatemala make School Supply Days possible for our students. Thank you to each and every one of you who donated supplies or hosted a supply drive in 2016! A special thank you to our Guatemala staff for your dedication to making Días de los Útiles a reality, to the Williams Honors College and Allina Health Vision Teams for helping distribute supplies in the communities, and to Heather White for the stunning photos!

Browse the galleries below to see all the excitement from this special time of year!